Before the season it seemed like a no-brainer that it would be picked up, but so far this year he's basically pitching the same as last year. This year he has a slightly better K rate, slightly worse BB rate, once again his velocity is slightly down from last year. His era isn't as bad, but it gets closer with every start. His FIP seems to think hes allowing more runs then he should, 4.11 last year and 4.12 this year, but a low 4 era isn't exactly what you wanted from him.
He has a $13M option next year. Since the beginning of last year he has been a below average pitcher, and nothing I see gives me hope that he will improve and return to being the Lester of old. If the season ended today I'm not sure what the Red Sox would do. $13M might be worth gambling on him rebounding, but is it worth it when our rotation next year consists of:
1: Lackey, who's pitching like he did for the Angels, his surgery looks like it turned back the clock
2: Buchholz, injured every year, but has put it all together this year, he's under team control until 2017
3: Dempster, has been a very solid innings eater, just what we wanted. FIP says his era is way better than his era, probably because all of the homeruns.
4. Doubront, has pitched very good since the start of June, young and cheap.
We have a slew of pitchers who could potentially take a spot next year: Webster and Rubby would be the front runners, with Ranaudo, Workman, and Barnes all possible at some point.
Names that stand out in free agency are: Floyd, Garza, Halladay, Haren, Hudson, Hughes, Johnson, Kuroda, Lincecum, Maholm, Nolasco. Nothing too appealing, which is funny since this free agency looked great just a couple years ago. What are the odds we get more value out of one of these free agent pitchers then Lester at $13M?
Trading him voids his 2014 option, so why would a team trade anything of good value for a mediocre rental? The best hope is that he turns it around and this thread looks silly in a couple months. I am really starting to wonder if this is the last we see of Lester in a Red Sox uniform though. Even if he turns it around and ends up having a good year and we pick up the option, he would be turning 31 at the start of his next contract. At that age with his overall decline how can you offer him a 4+ year contract?